A collection of short stories, essays, blog-posts and photographs from Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The Really Old Bali Blog (2013-2015) « Dutch colonial massacres in Indonesia from 1945-1949, and compensation from Holland [Updated 2020]

13 Sep, 2013: The Kingdom of Holland conveniently decides to compensate relatives of thousands that they murdered while losing their grip on the ex-colony from 1945-1949 – some seventy years later.

Well, putting it off really paid off.

Ten women from South Sulawesi aged between 80-100 were awarded 20,000 euros for their husbands' heads by the visiting Dutch foreign minister – out of a conservative 1,500-5,000 murdered by Dutch Captain Westerling's brutal Special Forces, the Depot Speciale Troepen.

In something akin to the US 'pacification' of villages during the Vietnam War, Captain Raymond Westerling's method was execution on the spot.

Dutch Captain Raymond Westerling – and 'The Westerling Method'

According to Westerling, pacifying Sulawesi without losing thousands of innocent lives could only be achieved by instituting summary justice – killing on the spot.

This became known as 'The Westerling Method'.

Based on information received from his own informants or from the Dutch military intelligence service, members of the DST would surround one or more suspect villages during the night, after which they would drive the population to a central location.

At daybreak, the operation would begin. Men would be separated from women and children. From information obtained through spying and intimidation, Westerling would expose certain people as terrorists and murderers.

They were shot without any further investigation.

Afterwards, Westerling would install a new village leader and set up a village police force – and all present would have to swear on the Koran that they would not follow the path of the 'terrorists'.

Nicknamed 'The Turk', Westerling was born to a Greek mother and a Dutch antique-dealer father in Istanbul. Trained by British Commandos, he never saw combat during the entire Second World War – instead joining the KNIL in 1945 in its bootless attempt to bring Dutch rule back to Indonesia.

Within a few months, Gezagvoerder Westerling had found his stride – spurning the Field Service Manual for a coal-black page out of Conrad:

'We planted a stake in the middle of the village and on it we impaled the head of Terakan. Beneath it we nailed a polite warning to the members of his band that if they persisted in their evil-doing, their heads would join his.'

Some put the three-month-long, 1946-'47 murder binge in South Sulawesi at 40,000.

The Westerling Massacres weren't the only cases of out-of-control slaughter in VOC- and Dutch colonial-ruled Indonesia.

Among others, 13,000-15,000 on the Banda Islands in 1621; 10,000 Chinese in Jakarta in 1740; 46 cooked to death on the Bondowoso Death Train, or 'Gerbong maut' in 1947; and 430 slaughtered in Rawagede, West Java, also in 1947 – only ten of their relatives were compensated, too.

More surviving relatives are being asked by the Dutch government to step up and apply for their 20 grand online.

But how many 100-year-old nenek-nenek kampung – village grannies – have you seen tapping away at their iPads recently?

Compensation update: March 2020

The more time that slides by, the less the Dutch government seems willing to pay out. It won't be long before 1 Head = €1.

From The Guardian: 'Hague court orders Dutch state to pay out over colonial massacres' [27 March, 2020].

'Andi Monji, 83 – an Indonesian man forced to watch his father's summary execution by a Dutch soldier when he was 10 years old – was awarded €10,000, while eight widows and three children of other executed men, mainly farmers, were awarded compensation of between €123.48 and €3,634 for loss of income.'

Monji's father was executed on the 28th of January 1947, in the village of Suppa. More than 200 men are believed to have been executed by the Dutch military that day.'

Imagine being paid €123.48 for the murder of your farmer-dad. "Well, he wouldn't have amounted to much, m'lud; never did get a very big crop, and he always got the planting season wrong..."

And how the blinding fvck did they calculate the 48 cents? Was that for one of his arms?

Related Content: Jan Coen and the Dutch VOC at play in the East Indies ~ Murder and monopoly

The Dutch VOC – led by infamous Jan Pieterszoon Coen – had the 17th century's East Indian spice trade almost to themselves.

Map of Maronde VOC trading post near Batavia (Jakarta), West Java, Indonesia

Map of Maronde VOC trading post near Batavia (Jakarta), West Java, Indonesia.

For a band of men intent on creating enormous wealth at any cost – and given no political or moral limitations by shareholders back home as to how they achieved it – the 17th and 18th centuries were carte blanche for the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie.

Coen's Dutch East India Company had free reign to sign treaties, mint coins, imprison or execute at will, maintain private armies, wage wars, pass laws, build forts and seize land.

The survey map of Meester Cornelis' VOC trading post in Dutch Indonesia

'Plan uder Grundrifs des Posts Meister Cornelis gennant, drey Stund von Batavia gelgen.'
The survey map of Mister Cornelis' VOC trading post, Indonesia.

But the newly-formed VOC had a thorn in its side.

In 1604, a British East India Company fleet sailed to the sources of spice in Ternate, Tidore, Ambon and Banda – and by 1617 they had set up trading posts from Kalimantan to Sumatra – in direct competition with the Dutch East Indies Company.

The Dutch reply was brutal.

Coen and his men ransacked the West Javanese port-town of Jayakarta in 1619, renamed it Batavia (later Jakarta) and established their new VOC headquarters from its smoking ruins. The Batavian Chinese Massacre of 1740 was still to take place, 121 years later.

On the other side of Indonesia, Coen had also quickly recognised the importance of the Banda Islands as the only place in the world that grew the highly precious nutmeg tree – the trader's holy grail of nutmeg and mace.

First, he routed and tortured the small band of British traders on the tiny island of Run – after introducing the concept of water-boarding to the world. And after signing a deceptive agreement with local sultans in 1621 to secure the rest of the Banda Islands, he solidified his sovereignty by ordering the executions of 14,000 men, women and children across the Banda Islands.

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Street art in South Bali of a Balinese boy going hungry during the Covid-19 pandemic

'Covid-19 vs. Hunger' (August 2020).

Street art by the urban artist 'Wild Drawing' of a Balinese boy going hungry due to unemployment and the collapse of the tourist industry following the catastrophic effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on Bali's economy.

Street Art by © 2020 Wild Drawing.
Photograph by © 2020 Ubud High.

Poster shaming Western tourists and foreigners for not wearing face-masks in Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta and Sanur in Bali, Indonesia

Public poster outside Ubud Market shaming Western tourists and foreigners for not wearing face-masks and disobeying Indonesia's Covid-19 health protocols. Masks have been mandated in Indonesia since March 2020. Foreigners' adoption of masks is embarrassingly weak on the resort island.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on Feb 13, 2021.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

© 2021 John Storey. All Rights Reserved.

The Last Pic

Portrait of the Day

Portraits from Bali by Ubud High
Old Balinese woman, Trunyan village, Kintamani, Bali

© Ubud High.

The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

© 2021 John Storey. All rights reserved.

Urban art of a young Balinese girl using a smartphone by the street artist Wild Drawing of Bali, Indonesia

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Bali's Street Art

Street art, graffiti and murals for the masses – the most public of Bali's urban art scene hidden in plain sight on the walls of Canggu, Ubud, Seminyak and Kuta.

Street art and graffiti murals at Batu Bolong beach in Canggu near Old Man's bar and restaurant, Bali, Indonesia

➤ Bali's Graffiti Artists & Street Murals in the Wild...

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The Ubud Handbook

THE UBUD HANDBOOK ~ Your free guide to living in Ubud and Bali in an online nutshell.

Religion Matters

The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter ~ Bali's Elephant-Headed Hindu God

Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, depicted as a spray-can- and roller-wielding street artist in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

‘First stop on Shree Ganesha's round-Asia tour was a spell in Buddhist Tibet with its strong tantric leanings – a convenient spot to re-invent himself as Vinãyaka, and then as the dancing red Nritta Ganapati – before a full-blown alter-ego revamp as the scarlet, twelve-armed Maharakta Ganapati. Now, Maharakta Ganapati was unusually fond of skullcaps filled with human flesh and blood – and this we might charitably put down to a bad trip.

After all, what happens in Tibet stays in Tibet...’

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An American Calonarang ~ Trance & Possession on Bali

Graffiti street art of a Balinese Salvador Dali sipping on a cup of kopi luwak in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

‘To cut an all-night story short, the mask was donned by a dancer who fell into a deep trance. But instead of staying in the temple, he began to run. And run. He became violent and uncontrollable. He ran for four kilometers down the road – the crowd scrambled after him. He ended up in a cemetery just past my house, and in the dead of night began to do frenzied battle with unseen foes...’

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'Nyepi' ~ Bali's Hindu New Year, and the Day of Silence ~ Melasti, Ngerupuk, Ogoh-Ogoh & Manis Nyepi

Balinese-Hindu devotees pray as sacred temple objects are bathed and cleansed during a Melasti ceremony before Nyepi on Pantai Purnama in Bali, Indonesia

‘If previous New Years' Days have seen you waking up with a crippling hangover trying to remember what you did the night before, maybe it's time you headed to Bali in March. Nyepi – the Balinese Day of Silence, and the start of the Hindu Saka New Year – is a day, a night and a day you'll never forget....’

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'Kajeng Kliwon' ~ A Very Bad-Hair Day on Bali

Film poster for Indonesian horror film 'Kajeng Kliwon: Nightmare in Bali'

‘Kajeng Kliwon is the kind of day when anything that can happen will happen. It invariably does.

You have been seriously warned...’

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Personal Stories

Diary of a Market Girl

Photo-realistic urban art by an anonymous street artist of a 1930s market scene in Bali, Indonesia

“When I had my sixth and seventh babies at the hospital – my twin girls – the doctor ordered me to have a Caesarian. And without asking me, he tied my tubes off as well.

I think he thought I'd had enough babies...”

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Food Talk

Durian ~ The King of Stink

“On the third bite,” says one hater, “it was as though I'd just eaten a diseased, parasite-infested animal with a bad case of rabies. I prayed I wouldn't be sick because I really didn't want to taste it again on the way back up...”

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Culture Bites

Cinema Paradiso ~ Bali's Seat in the History of Indonesian Cinema

1932 Virgins of Bali Thirties nudie-cutie bare-native film poster 1930s Bali, Indonesia

‘Boobs and political censorship have never been far from the Silver Screen – in Indonesia, they're its bedrock. The silent flicks of Thirties' Bali sucked hungrily on the island's bare-breasted cabinet-postcard image that encouraged so many gilded tourists – and dodgy film-stars like Charlie Chaplin – to visit its sultry, forbidden shores...’

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Getting Around ~ Bali 'Biking

Surviving Bali on a 'Bike

Motorbike accident victim being treated for a leg-injury in an Ubud clinic in Bali, Indonesia

“For me, some of the most dangerous people on the road are white people. I avoid them like the plague. You can tell the ones who are going to hurt others – the fixed grins, the hunched over the handle-bars, the wobbling around corners and shouts of indignation when they finally hit someone – because they have absolutely no idea how life and the road works around here...”

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It's Silly Season Again ~ Renting a Scooter, and Crashing it, on Bali

A monkey tourist crashes his scooter in a road accident in Bali, Indonesia

‘She tears into the traffic. She can't stop. She narrowly misses hitting a car head-on, swerves past a mum on a 'bike and slaloms across the road. Before she hits anyone – it's a miracle she doesn't – she falls in a bad-sounding heap of bent metal and smashing plastic. A group of Balinese rush to pick her up before the cops see her...’

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The Other Side of the Coin ~ Just Another Motorbike Accident on Bali

Commercial street art mural of a Balinese man sitting astride his Norton motorcycle as his wife hovers with daily offerings

‘She starts sweeping and I notice that she's limping. There's a spreading bruise and an angry graze running past her knee and down her calf. She wants to carry on cleaning – I sit her down and ask her what happened.

She's shy; I press...’

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Health Matters

Let's Get Wet ~ The Rainy Season on Bali

Blue sky pokes from behind a gathering of stormy monsoon clouds over Bali, Indonesia

‘Rule number one on a monsoon day? Don't get wet.

You may not realise that getting caught in a cloudburst or shower on Bali – particularly if you're on a motorbike – is the tropical equivalent of walking naked outside during a Prague Winter after a lukewarm bath.

It'll really slow you down. The shivers, hot-and-cold flushes, a chesty cough, diarrhoea, sneezing, stomach pains, a belting headache and aching bones are all at the top of the list...’

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Scorpions, Mosquitoes, Hornets, Poisonous Caterpillars... And Other Strange Tails on Bali

‘Nowhere is free from the tax of life. We all have to pay for our slice of Bali paradise – and this often comes in the shape of our biting, stinging, crawling, flying insect-cousins.

It's the downside of environment-sharing...’

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Holidays from the Jungle

The Heads of Trunyan

‘Agricultural, and unpractised in the dark art of handling international tourists, the aristocratic farmer-people of Trunyan have acquired a damaging reputation for aggression. Their unique tourist draw – a jungle-cemetery where bodies are left in the open to disintegrate underneath a magical banyan tree – is regularly shunned by travellers on the time-sensitive tourist circuit...’

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Lombok ~ A Line in the Sand

‘Ten meters away and the young man finally looks up – an inane, animal-like grin taped across his face as his girlfriend grips his porcelain butt and grimaces towards the empty blue sky. They disengage like street dogs, utter an invective in Russian, and stare...’

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Tourism & Self-Enrichment

Eat, Pray, Self-Love

I love-heart Ubud, Canggu, Seminya, Sanur and Kuta in Bali, Indonesia

‘My concentration's shot to pieces. The spaghetti keeps falling off my fork. She's on her third large beer now. She starts to say 'facking' even more, and is speaking so loudly that people passing on the street have begun to look her way, and she's spitting bits of ciabatta bread and tomato and fish into her friend's dinner...’

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From Ubud With Love

Will you marry? in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

‘I'm staying at a cute, family-run bed-and-breakfast – a homestay – on Ubud's trendy Jalan Goutama. A young member of the homestay's family tours her compound, blessing it with incense and rice and flower-petal offerings in little hand-made palm-leaf boxes.

All is well in Bali's spiritual capital...’

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A Dutchman Goes to a Gypsy Fortune-Teller

Wooden cock bottle openers, Ubud Market, Bali

‘A Dutch boy in Holland goes to a gypsy fortune-teller who tells him that he is, in fact, Balinese. Afterwards, his uncle visits the Island of the Gods and brings him back a wooden carving of a bare-breasted lady.

Lucky for him it wasn't one of those funny-shaped wooden bottle-openers that looks like a cock...’

.. ➤ ..

The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil

Yoga-wear for an Ubud yogini manifesting her abundance, exploring her Divine Feminine and inserting a Jade Egg at The Womb Temple near The Yoga Barn in Bali

‘Shake out those Kundalini Awakenings with some HoopYogini™ and Bhakti Boogie® at the Yoga Barn. Celebrate The Divine Feminine with a splash of Shakti Dance. Puff up your lungs in a Sacred Breathwork Immersion Workshop®, insert a Jade Egg for luck at The Womb Temple™ and polish it off with some tantalising Manifesting And Abundance.

You know you're worth it...’

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Urban art of a young Balinese girl using a cellphone by the street artist Wild Drawing of Bali, Indonesia

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And finally, the weather

Today's weather forecast for Ubud, Bali, Indonesia ⇨

Fake styrofoam clouds over the main 'Cloud' stage at the 'Plastic-Free Gili Air Music Festival' near Lombok, Indonesia